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Thread: Warren Buffet's latest thoughts on gold

  1. #1

    Default Warren Buffet's latest thoughts on gold

    I'm not saying I agree with everything he says, but he makes some interesting points. In his recent annual letter to his shareholders, Buffett said the following about gold (see pg 18-19):

    The second major category of investments involves assets that will never produce anything, but that are
    purchased in the buyer’s hope that someone else – who also knows that the assets will be forever
    unproductive – will pay more for them in the future. Tulips, of all things, briefly became a favorite of
    such buyers in the 17th century.

    This type of investment requires an expanding pool of buyers, who, in turn, are enticed because they
    believe the buying pool will expand still further. Owners are not inspired by what the asset itself can
    produce – it will remain lifeless forever – but rather by the belief that others will desire it even more
    avidly in the future.

    The major asset in this category is gold, currently a huge favorite of investors who fear almost all other
    assets, especially paper money (of whose value, as noted, they are right to be fearful). Gold, however,
    has two significant shortcomings, being neither of much use nor procreative. True, gold has some
    industrial and decorative utility, but the demand for these purposes is both limited and incapable of
    soaking up new production. Meanwhile, if you own one ounce of gold for an eternity, you will still
    own one ounce at its end.

    What motivates most gold purchasers is their belief that the ranks of the fearful will grow. During the
    past decade that belief has proved correct. Beyond that, the rising price has on its own generated
    additional buying enthusiasm, attracting purchasers who see the rise as validating an investment thesis.
    As “bandwagon” investors join any party, they create their own truth – for a while.

    Over the past 15 years, both Internet stocks and houses have demonstrated the extraordinary excesses
    that can be created by combining an initially sensible thesis with well-publicized rising prices. In these
    bubbles, an army of originally skeptical investors succumbed to the “proof” delivered by the market,
    and the pool of buyers – for a time – expanded sufficiently to keep the bandwagon rolling. But bubbles
    blown large enough inevitably pop. And then the old proverb is confirmed once again: “What the wise
    man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end.”

    Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it
    would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At
    $1,750 per ounce – gold’s price as I write this – its value would be $9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.
    Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400
    million acres with output of about $200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most
    profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would
    have about $1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying
    binge). Can you imagine an investor with $9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B?

    Beyond the staggering valuation given the existing stock of gold, current prices make today’s annual
    production of gold command about $160 billion. Buyers – whether jewelry and industrial users,
    frightened individuals, or speculators – must continually absorb this additional supply to merely
    maintain an equilibrium at present prices.

    A century from now the 400 million acres of farmland will have produced staggering amounts of corn,
    wheat, cotton, and other crops – and will continue to produce that valuable bounty, whatever the
    currency may be. Exxon Mobil will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its
    owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions (and, remember, you get 16 Exxons). The
    170,000 tons of gold will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything. You can
    fondle the cube, but it will not respond.

    Admittedly, when people a century from now are fearful, it’s likely many will still rush to gold. I’m
    confident, however, that the $9.6 trillion current valuation of pile A will compound over the century at
    a rate far inferior to that achieved by pile B.

    Our first two categories enjoy maximum popularity at peaks of fear: Terror over economic collapse
    drives individuals to currency-based assets, most particularly U.S. obligations, and fear of currency
    collapse fosters movement to sterile assets such as gold. We heard “cash is king” in late 2008, just
    when cash should have been deployed rather than held. Similarly, we heard “cash is trash” in the early
    1980s just when fixed-dollar investments were at their most attractive level in memory. On those
    occasions, investors who required a supportive crowd paid dearly for that comfort.

    My own preference – and you knew this was coming – is our third category: investment in productive
    assets, whether businesses, farms, or real estate. Ideally, these assets should have the ability in
    inflationary times to deliver output that will retain its purchasing-power value while requiring a
    minimum of new capital investment. Farms, real estate, and many businesses such as Coca-Cola, IBM
    and our own See’s Candy meet that double-barreled test. Certain other companies – think of our
    regulated utilities, for example – fail it because inflation places heavy capital requirements on them. To
    earn more, their owners must invest more. Even so, these investments will remain superior to
    nonproductive or currency-based assets.

    Whether the currency a century from now is based on gold, seashells, shark teeth, or a piece of paper
    (as today), people will be willing to exchange a couple of minutes of their daily labor for a Coca-Cola
    or some See’s peanut brittle. In the future the U.S. population will move more goods, consume more
    food, and require more living space than it does now. People will forever exchange what they produce
    for what others produce.

    Our country’s businesses will continue to efficiently deliver goods and services wanted by our citizens.
    Metaphorically, these commercial “cows” will live for centuries and give ever greater quantities of “milk”
    to boot. Their value will be determined not by the medium of exchange but rather by their capacity to
    deliver milk. Proceeds from the sale of the milk will compound for the owners of the cows, just as they
    did during the 20th century when the Dow increased from 66 to 11,497 (and paid loads of dividends as
    well). Berkshire’s goal will be to increase its ownership of first-class businesses. Our first choice will be
    to own them in their entirety – but we will also be owners by way of holding sizable amounts of
    marketable stocks. I believe that over any extended period of time this category of investing will prove to
    be the runaway winner among the three we’ve examined. More important, it will be by far the safest.



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  3. #2

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    I would agree that gold should not be seen as an investment that's supposed to bring in a profitable return. The point of gold is that the value is stable, relative to the dollar. If you had to choose gold or cash to put your liquidity into, it would be preferable to use gold.

    However, this concept of gold as an investment that's supposed to bring significant returns is one that is, at most, just going to be a waste of time for people that try and invest in it long-term. Gold doesn't naturally increase in value, speaking in real terms, as it doesn't produce anything or provide more utility to anyone, etc. A good short-term investor can take advantage of this misconception of gold and profit quite a bit if he gets his timing right, its definitely possible. But I'll lean slightly more towards Buffet on this one, it is a bad idea to see gold as profitable because that would be based purely on the expectation of arbitrary increases in value. At the same time, Gold has kept a level of value for thousands of years, and that's something no other form of currency has under its belt.

    Its definitely an interesting article.

  4. #3

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    Gold is money not an investment.

    What his newsletter shows to me is that Buffet is completely clueless as to what money is, how it comes about and what is a good money. All he does is look for an investment in which he almost correctly recognizes gold is not a good one but should have recognized it's not one at all.
    Last edited by hazek; 02-27-2012 at 10:58 AM. Reason: typo
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  5. #4

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    Gold is a monetary commodity, its valued not for its consumption but for its store of wealth and value. Why does it store value well? Because it has all the attributes that make it a good commodity for use as money (high value per unit weight, easily divisible, long lasting, portable, etc etc). Its also valued for its use as jewelry or for ornamental purposes because it is rare and pretty to look at. It also has some uses in certain industrial and electronic applications.

    Gold is a store of wealth, not an "investment". Even it one of Buffet's latest articles, it showed gold has outperformed T-bonds if held from 1965 till now.

    Gold is an alternative to holding traditional cash or bonds, its not an "investment" in the way of owning Exxon Mobile stock is.

    He claims that a century from now people will still want to trade their labor for some coca-cola or peanut brittle. Well, I predict that a century from now, people will still be willing to trade their labor for an ounce of fine gold.

    Why is this so hard to understand for someone that is supposed to be so wise?
    Last edited by matt0611; 02-26-2012 at 09:34 AM.

  6. #5

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    Berkshire up 60% in the last 10 years.

    Gold 600%
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    Except as to the rule of apportionment, the United States have an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America.

  7. #6

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    LMFAO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    Berkshire up 60% in the last 10 years.

    Gold 600%

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffet View Post
    The major asset in this category is gold
    Uhhhh... the major "asset" in that category is stocks that don't pay dividends, which is pretty much all of them.
    We have allies many of you are not aware of. Watch the tube. Show this to your 30 and under friends. Listen to it. Even if you don't like rap, it has 2.7 million views.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmBnvajSfWU#t=0m16s

    Cut off one min early to avoid war porn.

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    Interesting. He talks about the massive value of existing gold. Is he also someone who says there is not enough gold to use as a currency? You can't have it both ways.

    And let's look at his recommended investment sector, farm and farm products. As his article points out, pushing investment in any area can result in a bubble. Does he want a bubble in food? How many people does he want to see starve? Does he advocate massive death so that he can profit?
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
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  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by MooCowzRock View Post
    I would agree that gold should not be seen as an investment that's supposed to bring in a profitable return. The point of gold is that the value is stable, relative to the dollar. If you had to choose gold or cash to put your liquidity into, it would be preferable to use gold.

    However, this concept of gold as an investment that's supposed to bring significant returns is one that is, at most, just going to be a waste of time for people that try and invest in it long-term. Gold doesn't naturally increase in value, speaking in real terms, as it doesn't produce anything or provide more utility to anyone, etc. A good short-term investor can take advantage of this misconception of gold and profit quite a bit if he gets his timing right, its definitely possible. But I'll lean slightly more towards Buffet on this one, it is a bad idea to see gold as profitable because that would be based purely on the expectation of arbitrary increases in value. At the same time, Gold has kept a level of value for thousands of years, and that's something no other form of currency has under its belt.

    Its definitely an interesting article.
    Also, all those other "investments" for the most part require trusting others with your assets. People like buffet. Gold and Silver stacked for most people can be safely stored away. Screw trusting others with my assets. Wall street and the govt have proven they are more than willing to steal from me. My investment is my business, i work to grow it and make it worthwhile. I'll continue to peel off profits and store them safely.
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Snowden;
    So its, I would say; illustrative that the president would choose to say, "someone should face the music" when he knows the music is a show trial.

  11. #10

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    Completely agree with that passage, 100%. Very well written, you all should understand it well. The article does not disrespect or deface the purpose of gold, but rather puts the investment of gold in a wonderful economic perspective.

  12. #11

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    Wow.

    Acreage does not produce anything but weeds. You have to clear, till, fertilize, sow, water, spray pesticide, weed, reap, haul, refine the crop and after all of that, be at the mercy of a manipulated market price.

    Or...

    You have to explore, confirm, illegally invade, instal puppets, pay the puppets, influence government debt for infrastructure, start wars, assassinate, drill, build pipelines, barrel, ship, seek tax havens and corporate welfare, hire lobbyists, get in bed with central bankers and manipulate your market.

    Or...

    Buy and hold gold whilst laying on a hammock, sipping lemonade some place where it's warm.

    I'm wondering where they're hiding the millions of acres of dirt and billions of barrels of oil in this vault?



    Bosso

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazek View Post
    Gold is money not an investment.

    What his newsletter shows to me is that Buffet is completely clueless as to what money is, how it comes about and what is a good money. All he does it look for an investment in which he almost correctly recognizes gold is not a good one but should have recognized it's not one at all.
    He understands what gold is, but is an elitist, intentionally misleading the hoards who take his words as gospel.

    I'm sure if you were to look in the oracles (or better to say, "the insiders") personal safe, one would find 400 ounce LBMA bars stacked from floor to ceiling.

    EDIT: Bosso, you beat me too it.

    Buffet knows the fiat paper money system is epically fucked up.

    Subsequently, you can bet he's taking no chances, and has plan G well in place.
    Last edited by QE Is Theft; 02-26-2012 at 12:47 PM.

  14. #13

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    Anyone who says Buffett doesn't understand inflation obviously hasn't taken the time to understand his investment approach. Graham, Buffett's biggest influence, wrote one of the most important books for modern finance that starts out IN THE VERY FIRST PAGES about the movement from gold to fiat currency. Later, Graham notes that the long-term investor should buy only companies that can withstand inflation by passing on the costs - businesses that can grow the cost of their product at a rate faster than that of the costs to produce said product.

    Gold investors win big in only one circumstance: gold becomes money. In the event that gold does not become money, any amount "stored" in bullion merely allows for inflation-protection occasionally. Gold does not move in a straight line with inflation even over the most intermediate of terms. From the days of the Roman empire to the modern day, gold may have kept pace with inflation and withheld its purchasing power, but none of us will have the privilege to live thousands of years.

    Gold has value in the sense that you can exchange it for other things that have value. If gold becomes currency, I hope you know that you will need exchange it for goods produced by the Buffett conglomerate - insurance from Geico, gasoline and oil from ConocoPhilips, candies from See's Candy, and basic goods from Johnson and Johnson.

    I don't know why his thesis is so difficult to comprehend. If anything, he's thinking only one step further than most posters here.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bossobass View Post
    Wow.

    Acreage does not produce anything but weeds. You have to clear, till, fertilize, sow, water, spray pesticide, weed, reap, haul, refine the crop and after all of that, be at the mercy of a manipulated market price.

    Or...

    You have to explore, confirm, illegally invade, instal puppets, pay the puppets, influence government debt for infrastructure, start wars, assassinate, drill, build pipelines, barrel, ship, seek tax havens and corporate welfare, hire lobbyists, get in bed with central bankers and manipulate your market.

    Or...

    Buy and hold gold whilst laying on a hammock, sipping lemonade some place where it's warm.

    I'm wondering where they're hiding the millions of acres of dirt and billions of barrels of oil in this vault?



    Bosso
    And land can go fallow through improper crop usage or rotation. New forms of propulsion can make petroleum based fuels obsolete, whilst the latest graphene and carbon nanostructures may make many forms of plastic obsolete making crude oil a big mess and not worth much. Less folks drink Coke daily and the history of commerce is rife with products that failed due to societies changes. Gold will be used more and more in microelectronics as even though it is third in conductivity behind silver then copper, it can be extruded into 20 molecule diameter wires for microchips. Even if we went to laser optical computing based on graphene transistors and germanium doped laser we would still have to wire the internal outputs to inputs with as tiny a wire as could be manufactured.

    This clown Buffet ain't too smart of a pontificator. His musings extend as far as the cheque in the mailbox that week.

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  16. #15

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    Gold isn't an investment. It is money that holds its value. Dollars are money that lose their value. If you would rather invest your dollars in something you think will make more money than you are losing by using dollars, then go for it.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
    Anyone who says Buffett doesn't understand inflation obviously hasn't taken the time to understand his investment approach. Graham, Buffett's biggest influence, wrote one of the most important books for modern finance that starts out IN THE VERY FIRST PAGES about the movement from gold to fiat currency. Later, Graham notes that the long-term investor should buy only companies that can withstand inflation by passing on the costs - businesses that can grow the cost of their product at a rate faster than that of the costs to produce said product.

    Gold investors win big in only one circumstance: gold becomes money. In the event that gold does not become money, any amount "stored" in bullion merely allows for inflation-protection occasionally. Gold does not move in a straight line with inflation even over the most intermediate of terms. From the days of the Roman empire to the modern day, gold may have kept pace with inflation and withheld its purchasing power, but none of us will have the privilege to live thousands of years.

    Gold has value in the sense that you can exchange it for other things that have value. If gold becomes currency, I hope you know that you will need exchange it for goods produced by the Buffett conglomerate - insurance from Geico, gasoline and oil from ConocoPhilips, candies from See's Candy, and basic goods from Johnson and Johnson.

    I don't know why his thesis is so difficult to comprehend. If anything, he's thinking only one step further than most posters here.
    He gets slammed because he always compares gold to one thing and that is production. He like to say things like "some one digs it up and you buy it from them then it sits in a vault and 10 years later you open your vault and you still have that same gold sitting there". Of course gold will not produce you anything, but neither will paper and that is how he should properly compare different forms of money. And I don't think he understands inflation, though that is because I have never heard him give a good reason for it or the problems that it causes. Those who I do believe get it will always speak of it because of its importance.

    Gold already is money.
    What I say is for entertainment purposes only!

    Mark 10:45 The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

    "If you want to make a lot of money, resist diversification." - Jim Rogers

  18. #17

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    http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com...gold-from.html

    Robert Wenzal deconstructs Buffet's statements.
    What I say is for entertainment purposes only!

    Mark 10:45 The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

    "If you want to make a lot of money, resist diversification." - Jim Rogers

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
    Anyone who says Buffett doesn't understand inflation obviously hasn't taken the time to understand his investment approach. Graham, Buffett's biggest influence, wrote one of the most important books for modern finance that starts out IN THE VERY FIRST PAGES about the movement from gold to fiat currency. Later, Graham notes that the long-term investor should buy only companies that can withstand inflation by passing on the costs - businesses that can grow the cost of their product at a rate faster than that of the costs to produce said product.

    Gold investors win big in only one circumstance: gold becomes money. In the event that gold does not become money, any amount "stored" in bullion merely allows for inflation-protection occasionally. Gold does not move in a straight line with inflation even over the most intermediate of terms. From the days of the Roman empire to the modern day, gold may have kept pace with inflation and withheld its purchasing power, but none of us will have the privilege to live thousands of years.

    Gold has value in the sense that you can exchange it for other things that have value. If gold becomes currency, I hope you know that you will need exchange it for goods produced by the Buffett conglomerate - insurance from Geico, gasoline and oil from ConocoPhilips, candies from See's Candy, and basic goods from Johnson and Johnson.

    I don't know why his thesis is so difficult to comprehend. If anything, he's thinking only one step further than most posters here.
    Um, no, just no. Buffet compares buying gold to buying tulips in a tulip bubble and claims that the people buying gold require "the ranks of the fearful to grow".

    He's completely ignorant on issues of money and why people value gold to begin with. He's not a step further than anyone who understand the value of gold and why its rising.

    I feel much safer owning gold than I do shares of berkshire hathaway, thats for sure.
    Last edited by matt0611; 02-26-2012 at 02:24 PM.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
    I don't know why his thesis is so difficult to comprehend. If anything, he's thinking only one step further than most posters here.
    How is investing and gambling to potentially lose your investment one step further from what the rest of us here are talking about - saving?

    You either spend, save or invest. I think it's you and Buffet who have difficulties comprehending our view points.
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  21. #20

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    Funny story, I'd read the book "A Dweller on Two Planets" or perhaps "Atlas Shrugged"

  22. #21

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    if someone came to me and gave me $10 million and said i had to spend it and whatever i bought i could not sell it for 20 years-----i would buy farms.

  23. #22

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    ". Meanwhile, if you own one ounce of gold for an eternity, you will still
    own one ounce at its end."

    LMFAO.That is exactly the point. doofus buffet doesnt get it.after 2008,buffet has been exposed for the super insider he is.dont let his folksy demeanour fool you.he is a disgrace to his father who was one of the few who understood the gold standard

  24. #23

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    i agree the buffet is a mover-shaker , but unlike 95% of the movers/shakers buffet is a long term buyer , the rest are just pump and dump people.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ILUVRP View Post
    if someone came to me and gave me $10 million and said i had to spend it and whatever i bought i could not sell it for 20 years-----i would buy farms.
    And in buying farms, you may well have also bought mineral rights to something extra very valuable. For example, I recently heard of a guy who owns 2000 acres right in the center of a pocket of natural gas (the more valuable "wet" gas). His signing bonus for leasing the rights could easily have been nearly $12 million, with possible annual royalties of $18 million (more or less, depending on the productivity of his wells)

    He likely paid around $3 million for the property (ies), but possibly more, maybe as much as $10 million.
    "Sorry, guys, the rebellion is off. We couldn't get a rebellion permit."
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  26. #25

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    For the record ... I am no investment or gold expert.

    But all the research in these subjects have lead me to believe gold and silver is NOT an investment. It is rather a hedge against a debased currency. So in my opinion Warren Buffet gives us a false story about gold. Although I do agree a quality investment will appreciate and earn income .... the "double barrel" Warren "Insider Trader" Buffet said.
    Life is not a movie & liberty will not be delivered on a bed of feathers.

  27. #26

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    Unfortunately in this case the apple fell very far from the tree...

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig12/buffett1.1.1.html

    Human Freedom Rests on Gold Redeemable Money

    by Hon. Howard Buffett
    U.S. Congressman from Nebraska
    The Commercial and Financial Chronicle 5/6/48

  28. #27

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    Guys... this is great! Hopefully this brings down the price of gold (lol.. yeah right) so I can buy some more.
    For the Republic! For the Cause!
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  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Gold Standard View Post
    Gold isn't an investment. It is money that holds its value. Dollars are money that lose their value. If you would rather invest your dollars in something you think will make more money than you are losing by using dollars, then go for it.
    Bingo! I put my money in gold instead of banks. It's as simple as that. If you are making money and don't enjoy watching it loose value year over year sitting in a bank, buy some gold. I have other money invested elsewhere but personally, I like to save a lot, not "invest" everything in a volatile economy and you can't save Federal Reserve Notes since they lose their value at an increasing rate.
    Ron Paul - Peacemonger

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by cubical View Post
    He gets slammed because he always compares gold to one thing and that is production. He like to say things like "some one digs it up and you buy it from them then it sits in a vault and 10 years later you open your vault and you still have that same gold sitting there". Of course gold will not produce you anything, but neither will paper and that is how he should properly compare different forms of money. And I don't think he understands inflation, though that is because I have never heard him give a good reason for it or the problems that it causes. Those who I do believe get it will always speak of it because of its importance.

    Gold already is money.
    Gold isn't an investment. Great.

    You get that, but the common debate seems to be that gold is the investment of a lifetime when it is little more than an on-again, off-again inflation hedge. Hence, Buffett does not buy gold for improved performance in Berkshire's portfolio.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tod View Post
    And in buying farms, you may well have also bought mineral rights to something extra very valuable. For example, I recently heard of a guy who owns 2000 acres right in the center of a pocket of natural gas (the more valuable "wet" gas). His signing bonus for leasing the rights could easily have been nearly $12 million, with possible annual royalties of $18 million (more or less, depending on the productivity of his wells)

    He likely paid around $3 million for the property (ies), but possibly more, maybe as much as $10 million.
    Of course buffet buys those things on the cheap from families that lose them to pay inheritance tax bills that buffet supports and coicidentally enough sells products to negate...
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Snowden;
    So its, I would say; illustrative that the president would choose to say, "someone should face the music" when he knows the music is a show trial.

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